Prison agency: Throwing away books was mistake

By CHRISTOPHER WILLS – Associated Press Writer
Belleville News – Monday, Mar. 15, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Corrections Department said Monday it made a mistake by throwing away three trash bins’ worth of books – most in unopened boxes from the publisher – that had been donated to state prisons.

The books ranged from mystery and self-help titles to religion and history, and were tossed in the trash containers outside the department’s Springfield headquarters last week.

Department spokeswoman Sharyn Elman said some of the books had suffered water damage and had to be discarded, but the rest should have been given to charity. She said the department contacted multiple charities and could find no takers but still should have kept the books instead of throwing them away.

The books were thrown out only after prison libraries got all the copies they wanted, she added.

“We at the Illinois Department of Corrections have a commitment to education,” Elman said. “Reading is key to that and we are taking this very seriously.”

Elman said the books were donated last year, before the department adopted a policy against accepting such large gifts. Now, she said, donations are limited to only what the department can use.

The books included “Word,” a book on religion aimed at African-American readers, and “Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea,” a look at the legacy of Greek civilization. Another, “10 Secrets I Learned from ‘The Apprentice,'” offers tips for success gleaned from the Donald Trump reality show.

They were donated by Berean Prison Ministries of Peoria. Ed Meister, one of the organization’s founders, said he has no objection to the department throwing away unneeded books.

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Maybe these books could have gone to another state for the prisons there? Wisconsin? Michigan? Enough choice!